Acid Reflux in Adults
According to an article in the September 2003 Journal of General Internal Medicine, one-fourth of adults in developed countries experience heartburn monthly, and five percent suffer from heartburn daily.
No one knows why people get acid reflux or GERD, but in some cases a hiatal hernia may be a contributor. A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach is above the diaphragm (the muscle wall that separates the stomach from the chest). The diaphragm helps the LES keep acid from coming up into the esophagus. When a hiatal hernia is present, it is easier for the acid to come up, thus causing reflux. Although a hiatal hernia can happen in people of any age, many otherwise healthy people over age 50 have a small one.
Other factors that may contribute to adult acid reflux and GERD include:
- alcohol use
- being overweight
- restrictive clothing in the midsection
You can potentially alleviate symptoms of acid reflux by not eating or drinking anything within two hours of your bedtime and by decreasing your meal size and frequency. Some physicians suggest eating six small meals each day instead of three big meals. This tactic prevents your stomach from getting too full and uncomfortable and reduces gastric pressure. When you do eat, eat slowly to prevent additional stomach upset.
Over-the-counter antacids are sometimes effective in relieving heartburn, but if you find no relief using home remedies and antacids, you may want to explore a prescription alternative with your doctor. There are many new options on the market, and your physician can help you decipher which will be best for you.